Olney Hamilton Hospital the longest operating rural hospital in Texas
Thursday, July 25, The Texas Organization of Rural and Community Hospitals (TORCH) recognized Olney Hamilton Hospital (OHH) as the longest continuous operating rural hospital in Texas---providing services to the community and 5 county area for 111 years.
OHH CEO Mike Huff opened the ceremony with a welcome to the guests and introduced OHH Board President Dale Lovett, who shared a brief history of the hospital with the guests. Lovett commented on Dr. George B. Hamilton’s arrival to Olney in 1908 after graduating from Fort Worth University Medical School. “Dr. Hamilton purchased a house on the corner of South Avenue F and Cherry Street, which became the first hospital in Olney. In 1914, Dr. Hamilton relocated the hospital to a large frame building on Main Street. In 1927, Dr. Hamilton had built an outstanding hospital with the most modern amenities at 901 W. Hamilton Street—the current location.” Following his death in 1933, the 1927 building was expanded in 1951 to the Hamilton Hospital we see today.
With the hospital’s history in mind, Kathy Ford, the TORCH representative, presented the plaque to Mike Huff and Dale Lovett. Kathy said, “[TORCH] is the advocacy arm for your hospital. In this day and age, [OHH] is an accomplishment and amazing legacy for [Founder George Hamilton] to have a hospital last for 111 years.”
After accepting the award, Huff introduced the grandson of the hospital’s founder Dr. Steve Atchley, who attested to the strength of the administrators while acknowledging his mother’s love for the hospital. Dr. Atchley said, “In my career as a physician and cardiologist in Denver, I’ve had the opportunity to visit many rural hospitals. I’ve seen multiple hospitals close over the years, but this hospital was able to stay open. Like Dale Lovett said, ‘It is not the brick and mortar, it is the community, the physicians and the administrators that run this facility.’ I can say without a doubt—although I am the grandson of the founder—this is the best rural hospital that I’ve had the honor of being associated with. Hamilton Hospital has been under great leadership the entire time of its existence. It is those leaders that have kept it open.”
Huff concluded the ceremony directing guests to the reception at the education center where guests gathered to celebrate and exchange memories about the 111-year journey that led to the honorable acknowledgment from TORCH.
TORCH is an organization of rural and community hospitals, corporations and interested individuals working together to address the unique needs and issues of rural and community hospitals, staff and patients they serve according to the organization’s website. Olney Hamilton Hospital benefits as a member of TORCH--receiving education and training on technology, equipment improvements and new products that allow the hospital to operate more efficiently. Most importantly, TORCH partners the hospital with corporate pros who have experience working with small hospitals and a working knowledge of the needs in rural areas.